As Jesus was starting on his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; do not cheat; respect your father and your mother.’”
“Teacher,” the man said, “ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these commandments.”
Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away sad, because he was very rich.
Jesus looked around at his disciples and said to them, “How hard it will be for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus went on to say, “My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”
At this the disciples were completely amazed and asked one another, “Who, then, can be saved?”
Jesus looked straight at them and answered, “This is impossible for human beings but not for God; everything is possible for God.”
Then Peter spoke up, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.”
“Yes,” Jesus said to them, “and I tell you that those who leave home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and for the gospel, will receive much more in this present age. They will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—and persecutions as well; and in the age to come they will receive eternal life. But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first.”
“I am much happier having enough than too much. It would so easily distract me from following Jesus”, the pastor reflected. We sat at the edge of the poor village, looking towards to the sea. He had seen some of his community struggle with this fine balance of life – living in the way of the world and being in the Way of Christ. In silence, we held in thought and prayed with those who are distracted from the path of well-being with God.
Jesus’ words challenged the rich man’s seemingly religious life. His wealth enabled staff (slaves) to assist activities of daily living, gave freedom to attend to religious rituals rather than work, have funds to offer alms to the less fortunate, and time for pilgrimage and prayer all day, knowing that sustenance and a household were awaiting him. Was his religious ‘doing’ entwined with his spiritual ‘being’? Was his care for his neighbour to further his religious pietism or for love of them? This response-ability lies in our heart and soul. It is a constant juggle of faith and life – to set aside distractions that are self-centred rather than Christ-centred, re-focusing on why we do what we do, and what is of value for a better world for all. The more we satisfy our desires and wants, the less we focus on our faithful ‘being’ and purposeful ‘doing’. Spirituality is at the heart of well-being. As we draw our prayerful focus to God, we draw together as the people of God. Jesus’ Way entwines our being (heart and soul) and doing (thinking and doing) with gentle love, compassion and inner peace as God’s family.
‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ is this year’s theme for International Mental Health Day on 10th October. Our reading recalls us to Jesus’ Way of living and being that reaches out with compassion to our neighbours, and responds with kind, generous, and welcoming hospitality.
remember Jesus looks straight at you with love.
Prayer – Entwined
We are entwined in your hands, God of all.
As your people,
renew our loving
warm our soul
refocus our thinking
recreate our doing,
so we grow more entwined in your love
and our response-ability enriches creation.
May we welcome and connect with the lonely and isolated,
building a sense of belonging and self-worth.
May we offer different ways of being and doing with the frightened and inhibited,
growing confidence and self-esteem as they engage in new activities
May we love the self-doubting and self-loathing,
naming with them their individual gifts they offer to all,
bringing clarity to their significance and contributions
May we reveal positive pathways to the poor in spirit,
enabling a flourishing of their generosity and kindly friendliness.
May we live in prayerful practice in all who we are and all that we do,
nourishing awareness of your Spirit’s presence at the very heart of all creation.
For we are entwined in your hands, God of all.
And you look directly at us, and see us with love.
© Rev Anne Hewitt 7/10/2021
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Past Reflections and prayers can be found at churchestogethersa.org.au